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Brazil’s ex-president Collor is charged in Petrobras graft case

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 11, 2016 shows Brazilian Senator and former President (1990-1992) Fernando Collor de Mello gesturing during the debate on suspending and impeaching President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia on May 11, 2016. Collor de Mello on August 22, 2017 was formally imputed of corruption, money laundering and illicit association in relation with the Petrobras mega-scandal. / AFP PHOTO / EVARISTO SA

Brazilian ex-president Fernando Collor was formally charged Tuesday in connection with the massive Petrobras corruption scandal, allegedly taking some nine million dollars.

Collor, who was in office from 1990-1992 and is now a senator, was charged formally with “passive corruption”, money laundering and racketeering.

That followed the federal Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to allow Collor to be tried despite his immunity as a lawmaker. It did, however, reject additional obstruction of justice and embezzlement charges.

Collor, who resigned as president amid corruption allegations, became the third senator to be formally charged in the investigation of the mega-scandal, after Gleisi Hoffmann and Valdir Raupp.

Prosecutors say Collor took bribes worth about nine million dollars between 2010 and 2014 in connection with a number of transactions at BR Distribuidora, a Petrobras subsidiary.

Collor, who was the first democratically elected president after the 1964-85 military regime, did not immediately comment on the latest development in his case.

Dozens of senior leaders across the political spectrum and high-ranking businessmen have been investigated or convicted since the sprawling corruption scandal began in 2014.

The investigation has centered on Petrobras, the state-run oil company, where inflated construction contracts were used by business leaders and politicians to siphon off billions of dollars.

In July ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted of graft — and vowed an appeal — in the largest scalp yet of the investigation and a stunning blow to the leftist’s prospects for political comeback.

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